Blair U-turn on Livingstone
Monday 15 February 1999
The move to challenge the "Livingstone problem" head on comes as the former GLC leader holds a rally today calling for Tony Blair to allow his name to go forward in a one member, one vote ballot in the capital.
The comedian Jo Brand and the novelist Beryl Bainbridge will attend the meeting tonight at Westminster Central Hall that will mark the start of Mr Livingstone's campaign. In a populist move that echoed his leadership at County Hall more than a decade ago, he has placed adverts in the London Evening Standard calling on Londoners to back his right to stand.
If the campaign picks up momentum, it could prove too embarrassing for Mr Blair and Labour to scupper the MP's chances and could provoke more "control freak" headlines.
Ministerial sources have indicated there is a clear twin-track approach being devised that involves either blocking the MP through a vetting panel or taking him on with a "heavy hitter" in a straight fight.
The Blair camp's decision to keep open the option of Livingstone candidacy follows worries that plans to veto him could lead to unrest in the party.
Even backbench MPs who do not agree with the Brent East MP's views believe that he should be allowed to stand.
The strategy is fraught with danger for the party leadership as Mr Livingstone is believed to have significant grassroots support in London.However, party chiefs believe that the wider "armchair" membership in London, as opposed to the activists, will back a clear Blairite alternative.
The Secretary of State for Health, Frank Dobson, was seen as the best person capable of winning a mayoral primary, but he has said he has no intention of standing.
If no suitable candidate can be found within the next few months, the party is prepared to fall back on moves to block the former GLC leader through a vetting panel.
- 1 Barbarians vs Samoa interrupted by sprinklers as fans criticise lack of Wi-Fi and poor seating at West Ham's Olympic Stadium
- 2 Caitlyn Jenner car crash: Driver who died in collision sued by surviving passengers for $18.5m
- 3 Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
- 4 Hulk Hogan wants to be Donald Trump's running mate in the US Presidential election
- 5 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
Caitlyn Jenner car crash: Driver who died in collision sued by surviving passengers for $18.5m
Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
Hulk Hogan wants to be Donald Trump's running mate in the US Presidential election
Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Stock up on canned food for stock market crash, warns former Gordon Brown adviser
£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...
£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...
£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...